Tagged: The Tweeks

Mindy Newell: Happy Birthday, Isabel!


Just got back from a mahhh-velous soiree at Casa El Deseo held in honor of my niece Isabel’s 15th birthday. Wow. Seems like just yesterday I was the bath witch giving a screaming infant girl her evening absolutions before tucking her into her crib.

That little infant girl has grown into a talented young woman who is not only an orchestral cello player, but also an aspiring professional actress of musical theatre, studying voice, dance, and the theater arts. She also plays a mean piano.

Iz loves Doctor Who.

And the sequential art story form – comics and graphic novels, boys and girls.

I’ve been following the Challenged Comics Summer Reading Challenge vid series hosted by Maddie and Anya Ernst, otherwise known as the “twins, teens, geeks…Tweeks!” found right here on ComicMix, of course. (I’m a huge fan of theirs. You should be, too.) All of these books have been attacked, removed, and/or banned for one stupid reason or another. Here’s the discussion schedule:

  • 7/13: Bone, Volume 1: Out From Bonesville by Jeff Smith
  • 7/20: Drama by Raina Telgemeier
  • 7/27: This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki
  • 8/3: The Graveyard Book Volume 1 (the graphic novel) by Neil Gaiman & P. Craig Russell
  • 8/10: The Color of Earth Book 1 by Kim Dong Hwa
  • 8/17: Sidescrollers by Matthew Loux
  • 8/24: Perepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
  • 8/31: Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman

If you’ve missed July’s entries, don’t worry, there’s plenty of summer left – officially until September 23 this year, the first day of autumn.

I am very proud to say that Isabel has already read two of the challenged graphic novels: Jeff Smith’s Bone, Volume 1: Out of Boneville – which she discovered on her own and, by the way, she’s read the entire collection – and Raina Teglemeir’s Drama, which her mom bought her. (Iz also read Smile when she got braces.)

Like all great books, the reviewers raved.

Of Bone:

“Charming, character-driven fantasy with an elegant design and masterful story-telling in the tradition of Walt Kelly, Charles Schulz and Carl Barks.” – Publisher’s Weekly; “Like Pogo, Bone has whimsy best appreciated by adults, yet kids can enjoy it, too; and like Barks’ Disney Duck stories, Bone moves from brash humor to gripping adventure in a single panel.” – ALA (American Library Association) Booklist;

“Bone has the multi-level writing and artwork of the best Chuck Jones cartoons or early Disney movies. It’s overflowing with subtext about conflicting philosophies of power, cultural imperialism and political responsibility – though not enough to get in the way of its silly fun.” – CMJ New Music Monthly

“One of the best kid’s comics ever.” – Vibe Magazine;

“…Sprawling, mythic comic is spectacular.” – Spin Magazine;

“I love BONE! BONE is great!” – Matt Groening; “Jeff Smith can pace a joke better than almost anyone in comics; his dialogue is delightful — so are all his people, not to mention his animals, his villains, and even his bugs.” – Neil Gaiman

Of Drama:

An utterly charming graphic memoir of tooth trauma, first crushes and fickle friends, sweetly reminiscent of Judy Blume’s work . . . Irresistible, funny and touching–a must read for all teenage girls” by Kirkus Reviews;

“A charming addition to the body of young adult literature that focuses on the trials and tribulations of the slightly nerdy girl” by Publishers Weekly;

“It hits home partly because there is nothing else out there like it” by The New York Times Book Review.

So here’s a challenge.

Don’t be a schmuck.

Get going, choose your favorite book retailer, brick-and-mortar or on-line, and buy these books for your kid(s) – or yourself. You won’t be sorry. You might even find yourself – *gasp* – having an intelligent discussion with your offspring about them. Y’know. Like in a book club.

And what did I get Isabel to celebrate her big day?

This One Summer.

With the rest of the list to follow.

Happy Birthday, kid!


Molly Jackson: Banned Books – Why, Oh Why?


ComicMix’s very own Tweeks announced their Summer Reading Challenge, reading banned and challenged graphic novels. It struck me as a fantastic idea and a great way to encourage people of all ages to try something new. But their challenge also brought up the fact that I never understood the concept of banning books.

I grew up in a house where everything was fair game. Nothing was off limits or banned, especially books. I could read anything and everything I could get my hands on. I read outside of my age range often and if I had questions, my parents were there to answer them or direct me to someone that could. When I went through my Chaim Potok phase, a member of my synagogue made time just to answer my questions. No one seemed to mind that I was reading books written for adults at the age of 12. They trusted me and my parents to make the correct decision for me.

In looking over the reading list, the week 1 book really caught my eye. Bone Vol. 1 by Jeff Smith, also known as a go-to book series for young readers was a challenged book. Not only did that surprise me, it finally gave me a reason to read it. (It had been on my reading list but that list is too long.) After reading it, I had a laundry list of talking points that completely agree with The Tweeks. In a nutshell, grownups are sheltering kids.

Adults often forget how much kids see, hear and experience from the world around them. Books are the least concern. The 6pm evening news is more graphic and offensive than Bone Vol. 1. And parents today forget that kids have access to the web; something they never did. Even with parental controls, kids can discover adult topics on the internet. They are going to find out about drugs, sex, alcohol and politics one way or another. By hiding it, a message is sent that it is wrong to explore the world. It would be so much better if they were met with guidance instead of shaming. Lack of knowledge is what hurts people the most.

Parents seem so concerned to keep their kids from discovering the different aspects of the world. Sometimes that is the right move. Not every book is for everyone. But I am glad no one made the decision for me.

Martha Thomases: Stupid People and Irresistible Knowledge


Banning books is stupid.

I mean, you probably already oppose book banning. It violates the First Amendment. But I’m not talking about the law or morality. I’m talking about the stupid.

All summer, ComicMix and The Tweeks will be urging kids and parents to read graphic novels that are being banned from school libraries.

Here is my experience with being a kid and reading a banned book. I was in the fifth grade, ten years old, and my mom saw a feature on The Today Show about kids who were so smart that they read books written for adults, like John Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage and To Kill a Mockingbird. Not to be outdone by any other mother in the world, she promptly went to the Youngstown, Ohio public library and took both books out for me to read.

I chose to read the novel. It was shorter, and it had a story.

At that time, we were allowed to bring our own books to school to read in free periods, if we finished our work. So I did. When my teacher, Miss Jones, saw what I was reading, she sent me home.

That event changed my life. My parents were so angry that they took me out of public school and sent me to the only non-parochial private school in town. From there, it was a short step to boarding school, an elitist liberal college, and a northeastern urban ivory tower existence.

Here’s the thing: I had no idea what Miss Jones was so upset about. The book was, in fact, a little bit advanced for me and I missed out on a lot of the main plot points, the racial themes, the attempted rape. When someone asked me what it was about, I said, “It’s about a girl who dresses up like a ham, and also there are Negroes.”

(In the early 1960s, that was the polite term.)

Banning a book makes it irresistible to a kid, especially a teenager. There were only a few things that could make me want to read something in high school:

1) The author was attractive

2) Cool people were reading it

3) Someone told me I couldn’t.

Those first two, actually, might still be part of my criteria. It certainly explains my devotion to Will Self.

Because they had been banned, I read books by Henry Miller, which I loved, and by Charles Bukowski, which I didn’t like much. I read radical books about women’s bodies and how they work. I read comics with character that not only didn’t have capes, but often didn’t have any clothes.

Parents who support book banning in school libraries say they are protecting their children from ideas with which they disagree. They think that, if their children don’t read those books, they won’t stray from their parents’ moral compass.

It doesn’t really work like that. Maybe those parents will get a few months of peace and quiet, but not much more.

My parents, civil libertarians that they were, didn’t stop me from reading what I wanted to read. I mean, they weren’t going to go out and get me hard-core porn or vivid depictions of slaughter (other than what was on the news every night), but they didn’t mind if I read things they didn’t like. We talked about it. That’s what the dinner table was for, talking about those things. That’s what we did on long car rides (besides playing “I Spy”). And while I don’t agree with everything my parents believed (nor did they necessarily agree with each other), I didn’t stray very far, and I respect those differences.

Even better, I know how to form an opinion myself.

There are some books on the list of banned graphic novels that might not be appropriate for every child to read, and parents should be responsible for protecting their children from those books. For example, I think that a five-year old would not grasp Maus, and might be upset by it.

You know what I would do if that happened? I would take the book away from him. I would tell him he could read it when he was older.

I wouldn’t stop anyone else from reading it. Nobody should.